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The Rachel Maddow Show

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Iraq 31, Us 14, Harry Reid 13, Sharron 12, U.s. 9, Baghdad 7, America 7, Spiriva 6, John Mccain 6, John Boehner 6, Nevada 5, Keith 4, Paul Wolfowitz 4, Obama 4, New York 4, Olay 4, Purina 4, Keith Olbermann 3, Bush 3, U.n. 3,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2010)  

    August 31, 2010
    11:00 - 12:00am EDT  

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>> thanks, keith. that's august 31st, 2010, and the 104th day of the deepwater horizon. i'm keith olbermann. thank you and good luck. ladies and gentlemen, here is rach rachel maddow. >> thank you, keith. i couldn't stop myself from talking. >> i don't recall that at all. >> very good. that means the hook that i fell from on the other side of the room must have come from someone other than you. >> thank you, keith. really appreciate it. good evening from new york. and good morning baghdad. it is already tomorrow in iraq, which means that it is the end of america's iraq war, which started there 7 1/2 years ago
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for this reason. >> we've learned that iraq has trained members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases. >> iraq has provided with biological weapons training. >> he's a threat because he's dealing with al qaeda. >> iraq was linked to al qaeda and therefore to 9/11 and therefore we had to invade iraq. none of that was true. so when those rationals stopped passing the smell test, the bush administration decided to sell the american people instead on another justification for invading iraq. >> simply stated, there is no doubt that iran has weapons of mass destruction and that he is planning on using them against our friends, are allies, and
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against us. >> they are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. >> suddam hussein has and used mass destruction weapons against america. that, of course, has turned out to be bull puck key as well. press secretary said this. make no mistake, as i said earlier, we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. that is what this war was about and is about. no it isn't and no it wasn't ever. even the bush administration was forced to concede reluctantly
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that there were not weapons of mass destruction where upon the president decided to make it into a joke. >> no weapons over there. maybe under here. >> that was just as hilarious at the time as it still is today, with more than 4,400 american lives to bolster the belly laughs. ultimately, none of the things our government, at the time, told us were the reasons we had to start a war in iraq were true. opponents of the war said they thought that at the time, and pretty much everybody else realized it soon after things really got going in iraq. so then after iraq did 9/11, after iraq has wmds, after those, the justification for the war started to change even further. we needed a new, yet new retroactive reason for why that
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war had to be waged. >> the rise of a free and self-governing iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers across the region. >> the goal in iraq and afghanistan is for there to be democratic and free countries who are allies in the war on terror. that's the goal. >> spreading peace and democracy. that was the third try at made-up reasons we invaded. how's that worked out? are we back? we're not back? [ technical difficult the rise of a free and self-governing iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. america is safer today with suddam hussein in prison. >> that was really the most
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amazing. president bush who went to war in defiance of the war, trying to retroactively convince us that we really only went to war to protect the integrity of the oil for food program. we're just taking care of our buddies at the u.n. in the end, after that, the bush administration pretty much settled on the lone justification that no one could take issue with. >> i sent people to iraq to remove suddam hussein from power was the right decision. they removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors. >> nobody will dispute the fact that suddam hussein was in fact a bad man, an evil tyrant who committed countless atraus teas.
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it should be noted that being a bad man, he had absolutely nothing to do with why we invaded iraq. nobody, including the current president, seems to want to talk about exactly why we started this war in the first place. and that is maybe not surprising. this current president is a look forward, not look back kind of guy. but on the day of the war ends, what the war was for is sort of the elephant in the room. as long as nobody talks about that, that touchy issue, of what the war was for, congressional republicans were actually more than eager to talk about iraq today. but what they wanted to the talk about was how president obama should be thanking george w. bush and apologizing for having opposed the surge, that was supposedly what won this war in
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the end. >> some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth and nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results. >> in addition to house republican leader john boehner, who you saw there, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell also said today, "i think we should also be thankful that another president had the determination and the will to carry out the plan that made tonight's announcement possible." and then there was this from republican senator john mccain, "it would be nice if president obama could finally find it in himself to give his predecessor the credit he deserves." "the credit he deserves." while we are refusing to go down the memory hole here, can we remember what the idea behind the surge was? why we did the surge in the first place? the justifications for the surge, why we did the surge, everything is on tape. >> we will help this iraqi government succeed. and the first step for success is to do something about the sectarian violence in baghdad, so they can have breathing space
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in order to do the political work necessary to assure the different factions in baghdad, factions that are recovering from tyranny, that there is a hopeful future for them and their families. i would call that political breathing space >> political breathing space. that was the justification for the surge. the point of the surge was to set up a political resolution in iraq, among iraqi politicians, to provide the breathing space necessary for a functioning government to be formed in iraq. it has now been more than five months since iraq held its last elections, and there is no government in iraq. the surge strategy got a lot more attention than the agreement for u.s. troops to get out of iraq next year, that president bush had to sign before he left office. so the surge strategy did provide some good political cover in that respect for president bush. but in terms of the goal of the surge, a political settlement in iraq, no. not yet. that has not happened. the war was started under the pretense that iraq had some connection to 9/11 and al qaeda,
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which it didn't. or that iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which they didn't, or that we were going to somehow democratize the middle east by invading iraq, which we didn't. who knows? maybe it really was all about stopping fraud and the u.n. oil for food program. i don't know. the surge strategy employed in 2007 in iraq was about creating the political breathing space necessary for a political settlement in iraq. that also has not happened. and yet the critics of president obama today say that they want credit. they want credit for all that's transpired in iraq in this war. former bush administration officials paul wolfowitz and john bolton remarkably turned up in the op-ed pages today to make new suggestions about what they think should happen in iraq since their old advice was so spot-on. republicans sayi that george w. bush deserved to be thanked by name by president obama tonight. republicans are clamoring for credit here as this war finally ends. credit where credit is due. two american things have been accomplished in iraq. tens of thousands, more than a million americans served their country in a horrible war for
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7 1/2 years under horrible circumstances and under political leadership that was not about why they had been sent there. those americans are to be honored for what they did and what they gave. the other accomplishment in iraq is that we have finally found a way to leave, to get combat troops out, now. those two accomplishments belong to this president, who's overseeing the withdrawal from iraq, and to the people who served. the people who served honorably for these 7 1/2 long years. credit for all the rest of it, for the made-up reasons for going in, for going in in the first place, for letting afghanistan to spill out of control in favor of this war, for the constant revisions for the justifications for war, republicans, you guys can go right ahead and take that credit. go right ahead. credit where credit is due. well, look who's here. it's ellen. hey, mayor white. how you doing? great. come on in. would you like to see our new police department?
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this is a city that's bracing itself for a war that could come at any moment. i'm the last person standing right now at the ministry of information. a lot of people think that this building could be destroyed, and as soon as i finish with you, i'm going to get away from this place. >> i could see some anti-aircraft fire and here some explosions off in the distance. >> this opulent room is inside what was once saddam's main palace here in the city of tikrit.
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a stark contrast to the hole in the ground where saddam was discovered just ten miles from here. i am right now on top of a stryker vehicle. it's a fighting vehicle and we are with the last american combat troops in iraq. but as soon as all 440 of these soldiers are into kuwait, the combat mission in iraq, operation iraqi freedom, will be over. >> joining us now is nbc's chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, who spent more time in iraq than any other american i know. hi, richard. >> how are you? >> i'm all right, i think. the president's speech tonight, i guess i just want your overall reaction to him marking the end of the war this way. >> no mention of democracy. you talked about all the reasons that the u.s. went to war. the one that was -- that we heard all the time when we were in baghdad was democracy. that this was going to bring a new flourishing society. nothing.
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instead, it was thank you to the troops, but didn't exactly say thank you for what they did. just thank you for achieving what was asked. thank you for doing what we asked you to do. >> i'll just interrupt for just for one second. a war to disarm a state, he said, became a fight against an insurgency. a war to put the future of iraq in the hands of its people, a belief that out of the ashes of war a new beginning could be born. >> what was that? have you made america safer? he talked about thanking the iraqis for creating an opportunity for the iraqis to find their own destiny. emerge from the ashes and start their own society. and that's a tough lesson, a tough message to hear. thank you for fighting, thank for doing what we asked, but i can't really pin down what i'm thanking you for. >> let me ask you about one specific thing he said about essentially what's going to happen in iraq next. he said, of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. but, he said, ultimately these
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terrorists will fail to achieve their goals, iraqis are a proud people. they have rejected sectarian war and they have no interest in endless destruction. what's your reaction to that? >> i hope he's right. and iraqis themselves don't want civil war. and they didn't want civil war when it happened. and a lot of times, people don't get what they want. i'm a firm believer that no people want war, yet wars happen. and they happen quite often. and iraq right now, even if the kurds and the sunnis and the shiites don't want to fight each other, there are groups pushing them in that direction. and if there is a major catastrophe, a big bomb, i don't think the country is strong enough to prevent another round of civil war, especially if they don't have a government. they have security forces that have been created by the united states and are pretty good, but if you don't have anyone leading them and you have fewer american troops, then you don't have effective security forces. >> right. president maliki in -- prime minister maliki in iraq today
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gave his own televised speech in iraq, marking the same transition, just as obama did. >> he shouldn't even be prime minister. he was not elected. he didn't win the elections. he's hanging on to power. we could be -- we're backing him right now. i've spoken with a lot of people who are involved in these negotiations. the deal is, we'll try and reduce maliki's influence and weaken his post a little bit and we'll bring in ayad allawi, the person who actually won the elections, and we'll try to create some kind of power-sharing agreement. one, it will be a tremendously weak government that cannot handle the real problems. and it's not anything that iraqis are used to. they had a centrally controlled government. now they have no government. and if the american plan going forward is to give them some sort of weak consensus government, i don't see how they're going to get out of this. >> richard, we all know the list of justifications for the iraq invasion, the predicted effects of the iraq war that turned out
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to be bull. i went through all of those in my initial segment. >> yeah, i heard. the blossoming of democracy across the mideast. >> democracy has not broken out across the middle east. >> no. if the idea is to stop weapons of mass destruction, iran has been unleashed and iran is trying to find and create a weapons of mass destruction. >> and you think iran has been strengthened? they're the big winner from the iraq war? >> of course they are. if you ask iraqis what they're most afraid of, they're afraid of americans leaving because they're afraid iran will be the biggest player. for people who fought against the united states, people who were with the resistance, and are now saying, maybe it's not a good idea for americans to leave, because we don't want iran to come in and take over. >> it is amazing to think, that even without a new government being formed, even without us not knowing exactly where things are going, even, as you're describing, the prospect of
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another civil war, the probably most accurate generalization we can make about what the effect on iraq has been of this war is that we turned it from a sunni dictatorship into the world's only shiite/arab state. >> shiite failed sectarian corrupt oil patron age state. it has been -- it is a basket case in the middle east that is now being influenced by turkey, by kurdish nationalists, by iranian religious parties, by leb these religious parties. 7it's a place where you can make a lot of money if you're an iranian contractor, if you're an american contractor. it has not been a stable state that can contain itself or certainly contain iran. >> if people who care enough about this story, not only about the war, but the world to know how bad things are in iraq. how bad things are on the occasion of american combat troops leaving, do you believe that if combat troops weren't
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leaving, that any of those things wouldn't be true? >> no. for the last year or so, the combat troops really haven't been doing anything. so what's on the ground in iraq today or two weeks ago or three weeks from now doesn't change very much. the combat troops there were just kind of waiting to leave. a lot of them were in iraq still to give the iraqis a little bit more time to try and create a government, which they never were able to do. the real challenge is, if there isn't a government, american troops are truly now confined to their bases and the militant groups are somewhat energized by this moment. they say, this is our time to try and bring this whole project down. that's the danger going forward on the ground. >> it is one thing to recognize that things aren't good. it is another thing to recognize the limits of our ability to make them any better, essentially. >> well, the troops have achieved a lot. and the speech tonight, they've achieved everything they asked for. and they were there and we were talking about it. they've been going through iraq, tour after tour, a tremendous
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sacrifice to their families, but they didn't have that much contact with the iraqi government. they weren't asked to set up an iraqi government. but americans were. so this idea of, well, it's up to the iraqis now, maybe america will accept that narrative, but iraqis won't. and i don't think anyone else in the world will accept that narrative. >> richard, let me ask you one last question, and i will not hold it against you if you demure and do not want to answer this, because this is much more my bailiwick than yours -- >> no, i'm not answering. sorry. that was me, actually, i stopped your audio earlier. >> you actually cut my mic. that was great. i was preempting what you're about to ask. that was drama. >> what do you have to do to be discredited as an authority on foreign policy and worse. today the headlines are full of, honestly, paul wolfowitz. paul wolfowitz who said the war would pay for itself. $1 trillion later, we wants to give more advice about what america ought to do in iraq.
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in the foreign policy world, has any american ever been kicked out for being so stupid about the muslim world that people can tell? >> they don't seem to be. because i read a lot of op-eds, i watch a lot of news channels, and people who have really very little credibility often end up being the ones quoted on television. i don't know exactly why that is. yes, there should be a disqualification or a blacklist for people who are consistently wrong, but i've never noticed one. >> i hereby vote you, paul wolfowitz, off the island. that doesn't count. >> that was the tough question? >> that was the tough question. >> i thought it would be more personal. something that would really embarrass me. >> you can come back tomorrow and do that. nbc's chief foreign correspondent, my friend, richard engel. really appreciate it. still ahead, straight-up unqualified praise for a conservative republican united states senator. praise from me. plus a very, very, very bad idea from one of the two political parties about how to celebrate our own country's election day this year.
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if you have watched this show regularly since the last election, you might have heard me say that i think the greatest show on earth, the greatest show in u.s. politics is watching the republican party find its way out of the wilderness. watching them find their post-bush, post-mccain identity. here is a perfect story to show how far they have come as of today. during the presidential campaign, this happened at a
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john mccain for president rally. >> "the new york times," cbs, the clinton broadcasting system, and the all-bill clinton channel, abc is going to peel the bark off barack hussein obama. that day will come. at some point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and maybe start covering barack hussein obama, the same way they covered bush, the same way they covered cheney, and the same way they cover every republican. i'll look forward to that day. >> barack hussein obama, barack hussein obama. again, this was two years ago. february of 2008, this guy was the warm-up act at a john mccain rally. john mccain reacted to that introduction with horror. it was seen as big campaign gaffe. senator mccain repudiated the remarks and apologized the same day the remarks were made.
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>> i have repeatedly stated my respect for senator obama and senator clinton and that i will treat them with respect. ly call them senator. we will have respectful debate, as i have said on hundreds of occasions. i regret any comments that may be made about these two individuals who are honorable americans. >> i regret those comments. hold up, wait a minute, that right there, that was offensive. that language should have never been used. his bad, my bad, i'm sorry, that guy doesn't speak for me. not when that guy makes repeated references to barack hussein obama. not when he refers to the fake obama kenyan birth certificate, as he did later that summer by saying, "maybe it is accurate." and certainly not when the same guy alleges as he did just before the election that "obama wants to gas the jews." that whole incident was not that long ago. when the republican leadership, john mccain, was aghast that this talk show host was being associated with his campaign.
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what a difference a couple of years makes. in this year's election, republican leadership is all about that same guy, who so horrified them in 2008. at least they are if the guy who called out the man who would become our first kenyan anti-semitic president can be believed. >> i'm going to do my show that day from the portico of the speaker of the house's office in the u.s. capitol. i've been invited there by the new speaker of the house, john boehner, and i'll be the only radio talk show host in the speaker's office, doing my show from the portico overlooking the washington monument. >> and by "that day," he means election day. so if we believe him, the "obama's a muslim" radio guy who so horrified the republican leadership in 2008 that they apologized for him and repudiated him and said they regretted him being at a john mccain event, he now says he's been invited by the rnc to broadcast from john boehner's
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office on election day. we asked john boehner's office to confirm his claims about this invitation. mr. boehner's office replied to us tonight saying in part, "leader boehner has made no plans for election night." so maybe it will happen, maybe it won't? but if the anti-obama attacks that were deemed out of line and out of bounds by republicans during the smash mouth presidential campaign are now back in bounds, that stuff's now okay, then i want to know is there any new line? is there anything anymore that is too much of a low blow? joining us now is jonathan alter, "newsweek" senior editor and columnist and msnbc contributor, his latest book is "the promise: president obama year one." >> hi, rachel. >> hi. is there less of a downside in a midterm than there is in a presidential election to a latching the party on to one of these "obama's a muslim" far-right guys? >> i don't think they're even kind of making that cool,
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political judgment. they have just become a talk show party. you know obama asked them, the republican leadership, point-blank in february of 2009, in a private meeting that i have in my book, do you want to be the party of rush limbaugh? and they didn't answer the question, but the answer's apparently yes. they are willing to latch themselves to these extreme folks. and this represents a pretty big change in american politics, because we're not talking about obscure back benchers, we're talking about the leadership of one of our major political parties, and there is a very strong possibility that john boehner will be the next speaker of the house of representatives, in line, in presidential succession. >> in term of john boehner's role, though, we talked a week ago about whether or not him becoming an opposite number to pesident obama for these elections was a good thing for democrats, or a good thing for
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republicans. we thought it seemed like a bad choice for republicans. but if they really are having talk show hosts broadcast from his office on election night, that not only says they think that they're going to win, but that they really do want him to be the center of attention, doesn't it? >> well, they're just looking forward to a big victory. boehner is getting kind of cocky at this point. so whether they've made these plans with this guy cunningham or not, who knows. cunningham insists that he has been invited in there. but the larger point still obtains that they are willing to be associated with people who are out of bounds. now, the clip just showed, you know, that he called him barack hussein obama. at this point, since obama decided on inauguration day to be sworn in as barack hussein obama, that insult doesn't sound that terrible. but this is a guy who has said that obama has the mark of the beast on him. that he's the anti-christ. cunningham has said that. so we're talking about some pretty wacky stuff.
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and i think one of the big stories of our politics is that the wacky has now moved from the fringe into the center of our politics. >> but it does imply some sort of calculation that that's a good move. that the excitement that you get for people who are far right, from bringing in people like that, compensates for any price you'll pay with anybody who considers themselves a moderate. is it just a calculation that there are no moderates anymore? >> well, remember, they're still in primary mode. and in primary mode, there's a great danger within the republican party, in seeming moderate. it's almost a dirty word to seem moderate. look at what happened to senator bennett of utah, which is a classic example, a very conservative senator. but he dared to work with some democrats on some moderate legislation, and he was just, you know, thrown out of the party. so this is not your father's republican party. this is a different kind of political party nowadays.
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and i think the entire political system is just beginning to accommodate itself to this. you know, it began in 1994. that was where we got radical republican leadership for the first time. the reason that they succeeded was that the moderate republican leadership of the old days had failed to regain control of the house of representatives. so the lesson after '94 was, be radical and maybe you can come back into power. >> count on your base, don't count on the middle. >> so the message is not really for other republicans, the message is for democrats and how much do democrats care about turning over a branch of our government to extremists, to radicals. so this can't close the so-called enthusiasm gap, you know, what can? and i do think it's a challenge for progressives, who are saying, oh, i'm not -- i'm disappointed in obama. i'm not that excited. i'm not going to work the way i did the last time.
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they need to learn a little bit about what the stakes are. so an incident like this reminds us that we're talking about a different crowd with a radical agenda that they want to impose on our country. >> jonathan alter, an msnbc contributor, the author of "the promise" about president obama's first year in office, it is great to have you here. thanks, john. >> great to see you, rachel. coming up on "countdown," in alaska, the republican candidate is suspicious of other republicans. coming up on this show, nevada's republican senate candidate and hilariously kook and cloak machine gets into this show. but first, one more thing about religion and politics. every so often a self-professed constitution conservative comes through with actual support for something found in the constitution. something like freedom of religion. senator orrin hatch of utah has told the fox affiliate in salt lake city that he supports the
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rights of muslims to build the ground zero mosque. >> let's be honest about the first amendment ruling is freedom. religion expression. really express matters of the constitution. so if the muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have a right to do so. there's a huge, i think, lack of support throughout the country for the -- for islam to build that mosque there. but that should not make -- that should not make the difference, if they decide to do it. and i'd be the first to stand up for their rights. >> senator hatch, i have wondered aloud many times on this show, when somebody considered to be an adult and a serious figure in the republican party, someone in power, in d.c. now was going to brave the bigoted headwind and stand up for freedom of religion here. you did it. thank you very, very much.
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what do these seemingly disparate things have in common? the john birch society, senator scott brown, florida senate candidate, marco rubio, that fred thompson scare the old people ad about the bush tax cuts, and the former republican candidate for governor, this is alabama, we speak english, tim james. what do all of these disparate things have in common?
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the excitement that most nevadans have for their senior senator, democrat harry reid, is roughly approximated by the sound of one hand clapping, which i can do it like that. yeah. even back in 2009, only a third of voters surveyed in the state of nevada told pollsters that they would re-elect him. by january of this year, harry reid's unfavorability rating was over 50%. meanwhile, for the first half of this year, three republicans duked it out for the chance to run against harry reid. it seemed like the prize in that primary wasn't just the republican nomination, but the near-guarantee that the winner would be the next senator from the great state of nevada. because no offense to ham
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sandwiches, a ham sandwich could have beaten harry reid at that point. harry reid's numbers were so bad in nevada that even months before the primary, when sharron angle, the one on the left there, had zero name recognition, with more than 40% of the voters, sharron angle was still polling better than harry reid. sharron angle, of course, went on to win the primary, thank you for chickens for checkups, and by the time the primary happened in june, sharron angle had a double-digit lead over mr. reid. but then all changed. as much as sharron angle tried to keep the focus on harry reid and away from herself, nevada started to get to know sharron angle. sharron angle who has said that liquor should be made illegal, that she would like to get rid of social security and medicare and the department of education, and she would also like us to withdraw from the u.n. why? who knows. she says a woman who is raped should be forced by the government to give birth to the rapist's child, because she calls that god's plan. as nevadas started to get to know sharron angle and her ideas, this is what happened.
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you see that red line? that line charts sharron angle's poll numbers. the blue numbers charts harry reid's numbers. the senate primary happened here. and that's when, if your name is sharron angle, the line started really going in the wrong directions. things are not really working out for the sharron angle campaign. it turns out people do want to talk about her, they want to talk about more than just harry reid, they want to talk about sharron angle, holy mackerel. no matter how much he runs away from the press at her own campaign events, it's just not working out. and because things aren't working out with the old strategy, because she hasn't surged past the supervulnerable incumbent the way she was supposed to, the way any republican was supposed to, sharron angle appears to be making a change. instead of trying to keep the focus on harry reid, sharron angle has now decided that she will run against keith. against keith olbermann and chris matthews and me! jon rolston with the "las vegas sun" first reported today that a new sharron angle e-mail to her
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supporters says this, "will you send a message loud and clear that we won't back down by adding $50 or $100 to our total today? will you let harry reid know that we can't be intimidated, that we won't be shouted down by chris matthews, keith olbermann, and rachel maddow"? sharoning an sl losing to harry reid, but no matter what she says, she's not actually allowed to swap harry reid out for one of us here on msnbc. it's very flattering when politicians think that tv jerks like us are. it's very nice when politicians think that people like us are scary enough that they can convince their supporters that they are running against us, instead of their opponent. it's very flattering to be considered in these terms. i'll admit it. it's also very pathetic. ould ber if we didn't have to weigh 'em all.
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your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, have vision changes or eye pain... or have problems passing urine. tell your doctor if you have glaucoma, problems passing urine or an enlarged prostate... as these may worsen with spiriva. also discuss the medicines you take... even eye drops. side effects include dry mouth, constipation and trouble passing urine. i'm glad i'm taking spiriva everyday because breathing better is just better. ask your doctor if once-daily spiriva is right for you. at pso, we set out tot your dog to discover the science inle. some of nature's best ingredients. we created purina one with smartblend. new, delicious shredded morsels and crunchy bites, with real meat, wholesome grains and antioxidants, for strong muscles, vital energy, a healthy immune system, and a real difference in your dog. purina one improved with smartblend. discover what one can do.
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as we've noted at the top of the show tonight, it's tomorrow already in baghdad because of the time difference. iraqi freedom is taking place there today. i want to introduce you to someone that i met as the last combat troop was pulling out.
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>> oh, really? where are you going? >> i have too many friends in new york. >> have you ever lived there before in your accent is perfect? >> i was coming to apologize. i'm not that good. >> no, you're really good. i've talked to a lot of different people and you are really good. >> i am still working. >> it sounds like you're from new jersey. >> yeah. it's good. do you know where you're moving to or anything? >> well, i've got friends in north carolina. >> okay. >> washington, seattle. new york. it depends on where i can find a job. >> have you worked around sort of security contractors? have you been doing translating for years here? >> i've been doing this job for seven years. >> is it dangerous? >> yes. i was kidnapped.
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>> from you? >> yeah, back in 2007. i was captive for 20 days and i got released after i paid $20,000 american as random. >> your family had to raise $20,000? >> yes. and also they forced me to abeen don my house six times. it was a very bad experience, really. >> and specifically because you're working with americans? >> yes. >> have you had trouble in getting a visa and being able to go to the u.s.? >> well, the first time back in 2007, in august 2007, i was invited to jordan to the u.s. embassy to make an interview and for some reason -- i don't know. they suspected me as a jordanian citizen and we had a big fight, actually. i mean, talking and saw the ambassador and they say, no, go back to where i came and wait
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again. >> so you think that you have -- >> i've got the chief permission and approval. >> okay. >> on the 5th of august i got it. so hopefully -- >> will you be able to bring your family? or are you going alone? >> well, i'm not going to leave them here but unfortunately, to cover all traveling expenses it's very -- >> it's very expensive. >> we'll see. >> what's your name? >> willy. everybody calls me willy. >> willy. >> willy. >> well, thank you. it's good to meet you. >> willy, waleed, has been kidnapped, held for 20 days, threatened, ransomed, chased out of his house six times for committing the grave crime of working with americans in his own country. he and i spoke a week and a half ago in baghdad. when i was leaving iraq, i took
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this picture of the wacky architecture inside baghdad suddam hussein airport. i thought it was so weird that i took these pictures. deleted them under pressure, not under pressure by police, people with guns, but a guy that was so worried that the fact that he worked at the airport would be itself enough to put his life in danger if anyone happened to see even a ghost of him in my photo. and he had me delete those photos. i did. working at the airport in iraq is close enough to working with americans that it threatens your life in iraq. in 2008 the u.s. government tried to do the right thing by repay iraqi citizens who helped us in iraq. instead of the slow process of applying for refugee status, they could apply for a special immigrant visa to be able to come here for safety because they working for us made it
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impossible for them to be safe. you heard how he first applied for a special immigrant visa in 2007. he still hasn't got it although he thinks he's on his way. i heard that story again and again and again from iraqis that i spoke with. iraqis that had worked with americans in some various capacity during our 7.5 year long war there. they applied for the special visals, were hopeful, but nothing had come through yet. they were all somewhere in the process. they were happy that the program existed. they knew about the program that was changed in 2008 but they haven't been able to finalize it yet. and the numbers about this actually tell the tail. the numbers for the 2008 program for iraqis to help us out, that program made available 15,000 visas. 15,000. how many have been given out? not even 2200.
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meanwhile, thousands of iraqis, translators like waleed, who i said sounded like new jersey, guys like waleed, working as translators, contractors working as trainers, as translators with troops, western news organizations, people who did all sorts of work with americans during the american war in iraq, their lives are on the line every day, even though this program exists. right now, seven u.s. senators and 15 members of congress are petitioning the u.s. state department and pentagon to try to fix the problem with the special visas for iraqis who helped us. the problem with them being held up in pointless red tape. whatever you think about the war, whatever you thought about the war, then or now, we promised these folks if they helped us, we would keep them safe. it's about doing the decent thing, k